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Are Markers on a New Planter a Good Investment?

Are Markers on a New Planter a Good Investment?
Should you buy markers on a new planter? Even some farmers who plant using GPS and auto-steer still do.

You've already invested in GPS and auto-steer. Why do you need markers when you buy a new planter? After all, they are an option that could be left off. If you have them added you will spend several thousand dollars more.

Clint Arnholt, Columbus, originally wasn't going to purchase markers on his new John Deere planter delivered this spring. Sitting in the shop, it had markers when I saw it. Why did he change his mind?

Arnholt admits that it was the salesman that swayed his decision. But now that he has it home with markers on it, he believes adding markers to the new planter was the right choice. Basically, they're an insurance policy in case the GPS system goes down.

Go with markers: Clint Arnholt changed his mind and ordered the planter with markers. The major advantage is that he has an insurance plan to keep planting if GPS goes down momentarily, he says.

"I had markers on my previous planter and I had to use them on a few rounds last year," he recalls. "If GPS goes down, and it does typically once or twice during the season, you can put the markers down and keep going."

Related: Planter Maintenance: the Framework for a Good Crop

Arnholt is still a firm believer in GPS and auto-steer. He was able to plant at night in 2013 with the assistance of the auto-steer and GPS guidance system. He's hoping he won't need to do as much planting at night in the future. He shifted from a 12-row to a 16-row planter.

The salesman actually used the argument for markers that it will help resale when Arnholt is ready to sell or trade the planter. While that's not top of mind because he intends to keep it for a long time, it did cause him to think.

By the time he's ready to trade the new planter, however, an even larger percentage of people may be using GPS and auto-steer. Selling or trading in a planter without markers may not be a big deal in the future. Only time will tell if that particular argument is valid.

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